By David Henry
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar held gains on Wednesday after a quick recovery from an earlier fall as markets chose to focus on a suggestion from a top U.S. Federal Reserve official that the central bank may reduce support for the improving economy more quickly than widely thought.
The bullish comments on the U.S. economy, by Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida, triggered a rebound in U.S. Treasury yields and turned market attention away from the release two hours earlier of an unexpectedly weak private employment report that had driven the dollar down.
The dollar swung from being down 0.3% for the day to up 0.3%on the opposing clues on whether the United States will see strong economic growth and higher interest rates or a serious drag from the coronavirus pandemic.
The ADP National Employment Report was seen as possibly foreshadowing softness in July jobs data due on Friday. But there were doubts about its value as a predictor and another report showed U.S. service industry activity jumping to a record high in July.
The currency markets have been expecting Friday’s non-farm payrolls report to be the next big catalyst for exchange rates, followed by comments expected at a symposium of central bankers at the end of this month in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
In the afternoon in New York, the dollar index against major currencies was up 0.2% to 92.246.
The Japanese yen, often seen as a competing safe haven, was a big beneficiary of the dollar’s initial fall on the ADP report and gained to 108.77 per dollar, but couldn’t hold its break below 109. The dollar was last trading at 109.45 yen, up 0.4%.
The euro and British pound also swung against the greenback. The euro was last trading at $1.1840, off 0.2% for the day. Sterling was down 0.2% to $1.3889.
The initial downdraft came when the ADP report showed U.S. private payrolls increased about half as much as economists had expected, likely constrained by shortages of workers and raw materials.
“It was a fairly big disappointment,” said Mazen Issa, senior currency strategist at TD Securities.
The ADP report has a mixed record of predicting the government report, Issa said, but added, “the miss is substantial enough that the markets may be a little bit more nervous going into Friday’s report.”
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and other policy makers have recently emphasized that upcoming employment reports will be critical to the board’s decisions about when and how to cut back on support for the economy.
Fed policy maker Robert Kaplan told Reuters on Wednesday that more “progress” in the July and August jobs reports would be reason to start pulling back on bond purchases “soon.”
The dollar has lost value in recent weeks as declining yields made strategists question whether the U.S. economy will grow as much as they had expected in light of the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.
Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency, rose 7% to $2,690 ahead of an upcoming change in the Ethereum blockchain network that will take some tokens out of circulation.
Bitcoin rose 4% to $39,640.
Currency bid prices at 3:14PM (1914 GMT)
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
92.2460 92.0360 +0.24% 2.517% +92.3110 +91.8140
$1.1840 $1.1865 -0.21% -3.09% +$1.1899 +$1.1833
109.4500 109.0300 +0.39% +5.94% +109.6700 +108.7250
129.58 129.35 +0.18% +2.10% +129.8100 +129.1500
0.9062 0.9041 +0.25% +2.45% +0.9076 +0.9019
$1.3889 $1.3914 -0.18% +1.67% +$1.3957 +$1.3889
1.2549 1.2535 +0.12% -1.45% +1.2562 +1.2516
$0.7381 $0.7393 -0.14% -4.02% +$0.7426 +$0.7370
1.0728 1.0726 +0.02% -0.73% +1.0740 +1.0724
0.8522 0.8529 -0.08% -4.64% +0.8532 +0.8506
Dollar/Dollar $0.7045 $0.7019 +0.41% -1.86% +$0.7088 +$0.7018
8.8365 8.8215 +0.15% +2.89% +8.8480 +8.7780
10.4630 10.4650 -0.02% -0.04% +10.4778 +10.4180
8.6058 8.5979 -0.15% +4.99% +8.6126 +8.5666
10.1894 10.2049 -0.15% +1.12% +10.2130 +10.1838
(Reporting by David Henry in New York and Iain Withers in London; editing by Kirsten Donovan and Sonya Hepinstall)